Page last updated at 09:55 GMT, Thursday, 8 January 2009

Veteran Chinese activist jailed


A veteran democracy activist in China has been sentenced to six years in jail for helping set up an opposition party, activists and supporters have said.

A court in Hangzhou sentenced Wang Rongqing on charges of "subversion of state power", according to the China Human Rights Defenders.

Wang had helped to set up a political group called the China Democratic Party in the late 1990s.

China's ruling Communist Party does not allow challenges to its monopoly.

It does allow a few alternative parties, but they have to be officially recognised by the government and serve as advisers to the Communist Party rather than competing against it.

Pro-democracy petition

Analysts say that China appears to have been cracking down on dissent in recent weeks.

Last month the government detained Liu Xiaobo, a veteran of the Tiananmen Square movement who launched Charter 08, an online petition calling for democracy.

Mr Liu was one of more than 300 prominent Chinese intellectuals to sign the petition, which was released to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Chinese police have also begun questioning other writers, artists and intellectuals who signed the charter, which calls for greater freedoms and democratic reforms in China, including an end to Communist one-party rule.

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